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Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2 Tablet Review

Mike Wobker, 👁 Patrick Afschar Kaboli, Tanja Hinum (translated by Martin Jungowski), 12/29/2017

Business to Go. It took Samsung almost three years to upgrade the Galaxy Tab Active. As before, it is water- and dust-resistant and should withstand drops fairly well. LTE and support for stylus input made the predecessor very popular with outdoor fans, and our review reveals that Samsung has only improved the Galaxy Tab Active 2 ever so slightly.

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The Galaxy Tab Active 2 is the successor to the 2015 Samsung Galaxy Tab Active. It is supposed to withstand even the most extreme and challenging conditions thanks to its extremely rugged case and included protective cover. Underneath its tough and ruggedized shell sits a mid-range tablet that would probably cost half as much without all the outdoor bells and whistles. However, given that comparably rugged 8-inch alternatives are all but nonexistent the premium for all this toughness is fair.

The competitors we have chosen for this review are devices with a similar price and configuration. Granted, none of these is even close to our review unit’s rigidity and robustness, but at least they are comparable in terms of performance. Thus, we have lined up the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017), the Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite 8, and the Lenovo Tab 4 8 to compete against the Galaxy Tab Active 2. The Active 2’s predecessor is also part of our test group, as is the Apple iPad (2017).

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2 (Galaxy Tab Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
3072 MB 
, LPDDR3
Display
8 inch 16:10, 1280 x 800 pixel 189 PPI, capacitive, native pen support, TFT LCD, glossy: yes
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
, 9.5 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: headphone jack, Card Reader: microSD, 1 Fingerprint Reader, NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: fingerprint, accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity sensor, compass
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.2, LTE (Cat.6), HSPA+, HSUPA, UMTS, EDGE, GPRS , LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 13 x 238 x 133 ( = 0.51 x 9.37 x 5.24 in)
Battery
16.91 Wh, 4450 mAh Lithium-Ion, removeable, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 11 h, Talk time 3G (according to manufacturer): 23 h
Operating System
Android 7.1 Nougat
Camera
Primary Camera: 8 MPix
Secondary Camera: 5 MPix
Additional features
Speakers: stereo speakers, Keyboard: on-screen, Keyboard Light: yes, S Pen, Samsung Flow, Samsung Notes, 24 Months Warranty, fanless, ruggedized
Weight
512 g ( = 18.06 oz / 1.13 pounds), Power Supply: 60 g ( = 2.12 oz / 0.13 pounds)
Price
500 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

The entire tablet is surrounded by a black metal frame, the battery cover is made of plastic, and the display is covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. By default, the device is IP68-certified provided that the rear cover is firmly and neatly attached and closed at all times in order to ensure dust- and water-tightness. The power button and volume rocker are located on the right-hand side, and we were particularly impressed by the physical buttons at the front. They are very firm and offer a nice and pleasant feedback even when wearing gloves. And while we’re on the subject of gloves: Of course the Galaxy Tab Active 2 can be used with gloves.

In addition to its IP68 certification the tablet is also MIL-STD 810G2-certified. In order to survive the fall tests that are part of this military standard testing procedure, the included protective cover needs to be installed. Only then is the device guaranteed to withstand falls from up to 4 ft unharmed. The cover also features a slot for the included S pen - it is pretty tight and requires some force to let go of the stylus. The included cover fits the Galaxy Tab Active 2 very well, and the tablet seems to be very robust and tough.

Size Comparison

Connectivity

On the inside, the Exynos 7 Octa 7870 CPU and integrated Mali-T830 MP3 GPU provide enough oomph to run most 2016 Android games smoothly on medium settings. 3 GB of RAM is more than most competitors offer but a meager 16 GB of eMMC storage is on the low side and just as much as the 2015 predecessor was equipped with. At least the Active 2 offers expandable storage via MicroSD of up to 256 GB.

The tablet’s ports are pretty standard for an Android device except for the USB-C port which is only connected to a USB 2.0 bus internally. Accordingly, the port does not offer all features that would be possible with a faster connection but at least it supports USB-OTG. All ports are designed to withstand up to 30 minutes immersion in up to 1.5 m of water (around 5 ft).

Right side: volume rocker, power button
Right side: volume rocker, power button
Top: microphone
Top: microphone
Left side: POGO pins
Left side: POGO pins
Bottom: speaker, headphone jack, microphone, USB 2.0 Type-C
Bottom: speaker, headphone jack, microphone, USB 2.0 Type-C

Software

Out of the box, the Galaxy Tab Active 2 runs Android 7.1 with Samsung’s own in-house Experience UI version 8.5. The user interface differs only slightly from Vanilla Android, and experienced Android users should find their way around fairly quickly. In addition to a bunch of preloaded apps by Samsung, Google, and Microsoft, our review unit also had Samsung’s voice assistant Bixby installed. Unfortunately, so far Bixby has become more famous for its dedicated button on the Galaxy S8 rather than decent voice recognition and usefulness. Whether or not the Galaxy Tab Active 2 is ever going to receive an update to Android Oreo 8 was unknown at the time of testing.

Communication and GPS

In addition to 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and LTE, the Galaxy Tab Active 2 also supports Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC. Wi-Fi transfer speeds were very decent for a mid-range device, and only the Apple iPad (2017) managed to outperform the Active 2.

Cellular networks from GPRS to LTE Cat. 6 are fully supported, and the maximum theoretical LTE download speed is 300 Mbps. In addition to mobile data, the tablet can also utilize cellular networks for phone calls. Unfortunately, voice quality suffers noticeably from the protective case which, while equipped with the proper cutouts for the microphone and speaker, is simply too thick and muffles sounds.

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Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Apple iPad (2017)
A9 / PowerVR GT7600, A9, 128 GB NVMe
465 MBit/s ∼100% +48%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
Mali-T830 MP2, 7870 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
315 MBit/s ∼68%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
Mali-T720, MT8163 V/B 1.3 GHz, 16 GB eMMC Flash
99.3 MBit/s ∼21% -68%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
Adreno 308, 425, 16 GB eMMC Flash
46.5 MBit/s ∼10% -85%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
Adreno 505, 435, 16 GB eMMC Flash
42.7 MBit/s ∼9% -86%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Apple iPad (2017)
A9 / PowerVR GT7600, A9, 128 GB NVMe
389 MBit/s ∼100% +50%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
Mali-T830 MP2, 7870 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
260 MBit/s ∼67%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
Mali-T720, MT8163 V/B 1.3 GHz, 16 GB eMMC Flash
86 MBit/s ∼22% -67%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
Adreno 505, 435, 16 GB eMMC Flash
45.2 MBit/s ∼12% -83%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
Adreno 308, 425, 16 GB eMMC Flash
41.5 MBit/s ∼11% -84%
GPS test indoors
GPS test indoors
GPS test outdoors
GPS test outdoors

The tablet’s GPS module is very fast and accurate. During our standard outdoor test, the difference in recorded track length between the Galaxy Tab Active 2 and the Garmin Edge 500 was only 70 m (total distance recorded: 6 km). The Active 2’s biggest weakness was inaccuracies in turns. At only 6 m, outdoor GPS accuracy was very decent. Unfortunately, indoor accuracy was much worse at 27 m. Overall, the Tab 2 was on a par with its competitors in this category.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500

Cameras

Test photo - front-facing camera
Test photo - front-facing camera
Test photo - main camera
Test photo - main camera

Like most tablets, the Active 2 is equipped with two cameras: a front-facing and a rear-facing camera. The latter features an 8 MP sensor (3264x2448) and overall image quality was fairly decent even in low light conditions albeit with some minor blurriness around the edges and lackluster colors. The 5 MP front-racing camera was even worse. It performed better under low light conditions than the rear shooter and its photos turned out even more pale, but at least it is more than adequate for video chats.

Two important factors for photo quality are sensor size and aperture, and the main camera’s sensor size is 1/4 inch with an aperture of f/1.9. While bigger sensors are better the opposite is true for the aperture: the smaller the fraction the better. Low-light conditions profit immensely from big sensors and low apertures. In return, small sensors and high apertures result in less light getting through the lens and consequently result in blurry, dark, and pale photos.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images
ColorChecker Passport. The reference color is in the bottom half of each square.
ColorChecker Passport. The reference color is in the bottom half of each square.

The main camera’s color representation was a bit too bright with blue colors definitely being the most accurate.

The 8 MP camera fared pretty well under normalized conditions in our lab. Our test photo turned out sharp and in focus, and it was only a little bit blurry towards the edges. Colors, however, were lackluster and the photo turned out too dark overall.

Accessories and Warranty

In addition to the charger and the tablet itself Samsung also includes the so-called “Protective Cover+” and the S pen in the box. The protective cover is required to ensure that the tablet is drop-proof and the S pen is a very convenient input device. The device supports “off memo”, a feature where notes can be taken even when the display is turned off.

As usual, the Galaxy Tab Active 2 comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Input Devices & Handling

Just like on every tablet and smartphone, the virtual keyboard is a compromise. In portrait mode the keys are very small and easy to miss, and in landscape mode they are too far apart and hard to reach. A physical keyboard can be attached thanks to the POGO pins and the tablet obviously also supports Bluetooth keyboards. The Galaxy Tab Active 2 remains usable with gloves provided that the heightened touch sensitivity option is enabled.

The S pen is certainly a highlight. Its very fine tip allows for incredibly precise input, and 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity allow for a highly accurate input when drawing or handwriting. The touchscreen’s responsiveness was very smooth and snappy. Rotation was performed smoothly with only minor lag, and we found the physical buttons at the front very impressive overall. They are firm, easy to find, and they offer a very nice feedback.

Display

Subpixel geometry
Subpixel geometry

The 8-inch display’s 1280x800 resolution is only mediocre at best but is not uncommon in the mid-range bracket. That said, the predecessor already featured the exact same resolution three years ago.

Subjectively, the display was pretty nice overall. Brightness was above average, and contrast ratio and color representation were acceptable. Only the Apple iPad (2017) was equipped with a display that was even better than the one on our review unit.

471
cd/m²
473
cd/m²
486
cd/m²
471
cd/m²
509
cd/m²
490
cd/m²
462
cd/m²
466
cd/m²
467
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 509 cd/m² Average: 477.2 cd/m² Minimum: 5.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 91 %
Center on Battery: 509 cd/m²
Contrast: 1060:1 (Black: 0.48 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 3.45 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.2
ΔE Greyscale 4.5 | 0.64-98 Ø6.4
99.9% sRGB (Calman 2D)
Gamma: 2.11
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
TFT LCD, 1280x800, 8
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
TFT, 1280x800, 8
Lenovo Tab 4 8
IPS, 1280x800, 8
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
IPS, 1920x1200, 8
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
IPS, 1280x800, 8
Apple iPad (2017)
IPS, 2048x1536, 9.7
Screen
-31%
-38%
-26%
-57%
21%
Brightness middle
509
424
-17%
455
-11%
409.1
-20%
419
-18%
514
1%
Brightness
477
426
-11%
446
-6%
402
-16%
412
-14%
485
2%
Brightness Distribution
91
85
-7%
91
0%
92
1%
91
0%
88
-3%
Black Level *
0.48
0.7
-46%
0.51
-6%
0.56
-17%
0.39
19%
0.46
4%
Contrast
1060
606
-43%
892
-16%
731
-31%
1074
1%
1117
5%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.45
5.7
-65%
5.5
-59%
4.1
-19%
8.5
-146%
1.4
59%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
5.17
14.8
-186%
9.6
-86%
13.8
-167%
2.9
44%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
4.5
5.76
-28%
5.5
-22%
5.3
-18%
10.3
-129%
2.1
53%
Gamma
2.11 104%
2.36 93%
2.23 99%
2.2 100%
2.6 85%
2.22 99%
CCT
7171 91%
7236 90%
7852 83%
7603 85%
6216 105%
6647 98%

* ... smaller is better

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 52 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9258 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Colors seem somewhat pale on the Active 2, and blacks aren’t really black either. The comparatively high black level is unnoticeable when looking at photos or watching movies, though, and it has no negative effect on the display’s overall good impression. Focus and sharpness were excellent but somewhat lacking due to the low resolution. All things considered, the display seemed to fit the bill quite nicely, and the Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite 8 is living proof that a higher resolution display is not necessarily better by default.

CalMAN color accuracy
CalMAN color accuracy
CalMAN color space
CalMAN color space
CalMAN grayscale
CalMAN grayscale
CalMAN saturation
CalMAN saturation

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
28 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 17 ms rise
↘ 11 ms fall
The screen shows relatively slow response rates in our tests and may be too slow for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 59 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (25.6 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
42 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 23 ms rise
↘ 19 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 53 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (41 ms).

Outdoor usability was quite good thanks to the display’s high brightness, and the display remained readable even in bright sunlight. Given the highly glossy nature of the display’s glass cover, a shady spot would be preferable and much less strenuous on the eyes, though.

Viewing angles were excellent for a TFT LCD panel, and we haven’t noticed distorted colors or inexplicable drops in brightness regardless of the viewing direction angle. Brightness distribution was pretty poor overall but had no noticeable effect in everyday use.

Outdoors
Outdoors
Screen-bleeding
Screen-bleeding
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

Processor

The Galaxy Tab Active 2 is equipped with Samsung’s own Exynos 7 Octa 7870 SoC featuring eight cores, an integrated LTE modem, a dual-channel memory controller, and an ARM Mali T830 MP2 GPU. Despite the fact that this SoC is almost two years old, it is still more than fast enough for most Android apps. 2016 games should also run fairly well on medium details. Battery life is decent thanks to the Exynos 7 Octa 7870’s impressive efficiency.

In our benchmarks, the Galaxy Tab Active 2 performed as expected. It scored somewhere in the middle of our test group in most tests and was neither the slowest nor the fastest of the bunch, the only exception being PCMark for Android’s work performance benchmark where the Active 2 outperformed the entire Android competition.

AnTuTu v6 - Total Score
Apple iPad (2017)
128706 Points ∼47% +182%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
46126 Points ∼17% +1%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
45573 Points ∼17%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
36893 Points ∼13% -19%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
34714 Points ∼13% -24%
PCMark for Android
Work 2.0 performance score
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
3789 Points ∼37%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
3744 Points ∼36% -1%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
3312 Points ∼32% -13%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
2907 Points ∼28% -23%
Work performance score
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
4945 Points ∼37%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
4843 Points ∼36% -2%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
4457 Points ∼33% -10%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
4125 Points ∼30% -17%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
2769 Points ∼20% -44%
BaseMark OS II
Web
Apple iPad (2017)
1213 Points ∼60% +74%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
773 Points ∼38% +11%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
702 Points ∼35% 0%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
699 Points ∼34%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
595 Points ∼29% -15%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
593 Points ∼29% -15%
Graphics
Apple iPad (2017)
4569 Points ∼16% +762%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
777 Points ∼3% +47%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
530 Points ∼2%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
447 Points ∼2% -16%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
355 Points ∼1% -33%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
334 Points ∼1% -37%
Memory
Apple iPad (2017)
1341 Points ∼21% +14%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
1224 Points ∼19% +4%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
1176 Points ∼19%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
784 Points ∼12% -33%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
736 Points ∼12% -37%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
324 Points ∼5% -72%
System
Apple iPad (2017)
4680 Points ∼28% +100%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
2337 Points ∼14%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
1980 Points ∼12% -15%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
1477 Points ∼9% -37%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
1152 Points ∼7% -51%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
881 Points ∼5% -62%
Overall
Apple iPad (2017)
2441 Points ∼29% +143%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
1072 Points ∼13% +7%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
1005 Points ∼12%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
796 Points ∼9% -21%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
640 Points ∼8% -36%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
496 Points ∼6% -51%
Geekbench 4.3
Compute RenderScript Score
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
2369 Points ∼5%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
1324 Points ∼3% -44%
64 Bit Multi-Core Score
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
3710 Points ∼10%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
2821 Points ∼8% -24%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
1908 Points ∼5% -49%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
1683 Points ∼5% -55%
64 Bit Single-Core Score
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
726 Points ∼11%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
688 Points ∼11% -5%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
670 Points ∼11% -8%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
628 Points ∼10% -13%
3DMark
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Physics
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
1721 Points ∼41%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
1324 Points ∼31% -23%
Apple iPad (2017)
1098 Points ∼26% -36%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
878 Points ∼21% -49%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Graphics
Apple iPad (2017)
2519 Points ∼47% +954%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
263 Points ∼5% +10%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
239 Points ∼4%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
121 Points ∼2% -49%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1)
Apple iPad (2017)
1957 Points ∼41% +561%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
320 Points ∼7% +8%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
296 Points ∼6%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
150 Points ∼3% -49%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Physics
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
1522 Points ∼36%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
1332 Points ∼32% -12%
Apple iPad (2017)
1074 Points ∼25% -29%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
881 Points ∼21% -42%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
874 Points ∼21% -43%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics
Apple iPad (2017)
4320 Points ∼52% +983%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
538 Points ∼6% +35%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
399 Points ∼5%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
193 Points ∼2% -52%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
42 Points ∼1% -89%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0
Apple iPad (2017)
2584 Points ∼40% +442%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
620 Points ∼10% +30%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
477 Points ∼7%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
234 Points ∼4% -51%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
53 Points ∼1% -89%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics
Apple iPad (2017)
13324 Points ∼15% +3%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
12947 Points ∼15%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
10458 Points ∼12% -19%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
9274 Points ∼11% -28%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
9264 Points ∼11% -28%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
7763 Points ∼9% -40%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score
Apple iPad (2017)
44645 Points ∼8% +478%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
10163 Points ∼2% +32%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
7720 Points ∼1%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
5496 Points ∼1% -29%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
5435 Points ∼1% -30%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
4166 Points ∼1% -46%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score
Apple iPad (2017)
29326 Points ∼12% +246%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
9948 Points ∼4% +17%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
8481 Points ∼4%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
6144 Points ∼3% -28%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
5986 Points ∼3% -29%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
4644 Points ∼2% -45%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16
Apple iPad (2017)
80.8 fps ∼1% +573%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
17 fps ∼0% +42%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
12 fps ∼0%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
9.9 fps ∼0% -17%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
7.8 fps ∼0% -35%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
5.8 fps ∼0% -52%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16
Apple iPad (2017)
56 fps ∼2% +195%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
19 fps ∼1%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
17 fps ∼1% -11%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
16 fps ∼0% -16%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
14 fps ∼0% -26%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
10 fps ∼0% -47%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL
Apple iPad (2017)
40.6 fps ∼1% +696%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
6.9 fps ∼0% +35%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
5.1 fps ∼0%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
3.6 fps ∼0% -29%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
2.8 fps ∼0% -45%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
1.6 fps ∼0% -69%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL
Apple iPad (2017)
28.7 fps ∼1% +212%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
9.2 fps ∼0%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
7.6 fps ∼0% -17%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
7.1 fps ∼0% -23%
Lenovo Tab 4 8
5.9 fps ∼0% -36%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
3.5 fps ∼0% -62%
GFXBench 3.1
off screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Offscreen
Apple iPad (2017)
28.5 fps ∼1% +791%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
4.9 fps ∼0% +53%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
3.2 fps ∼0%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
2.3 fps ∼0% -28%
on screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Onscreen
Apple iPad (2017)
18.5 fps ∼1% +176%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
6.7 fps ∼0%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
5 fps ∼0% -25%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
4.6 fps ∼0% -31%
GFXBench
off screen Car Chase Offscreen
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
2.7 fps ∼0% +35%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
2 fps ∼0%
on screen Car Chase Onscreen
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
3.7 fps ∼0%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
2.5 fps ∼0% -32%

Legend

 
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2 Samsung Exynos 7870 Octa, ARM Mali-T830 MP2, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8926, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Lenovo Tab 4 8 Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 (MSM8917), Qualcomm Adreno 308, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8 Qualcomm Snapdragon 435, Qualcomm Adreno 505, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 MediaTek MT8163 V/B 1.3 GHz, ARM Mali-T720, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Apple iPad (2017) Apple A9, Apple A9 / PowerVR GT7600, 128 GB NVMe

The browsing experience with the preloaded Samsung browser was faster than on its competitors but was unable to keep up with Apple’s iPad (2017). Subjectively, browsing the web was snappy and smooth. Websites loaded fairly quickly and multiple open tabs were no problem whatsoever.

Octane V2 - Total Score
Apple iPad (2017)
18148 Points ∼100% +281%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
4768 Points ∼26%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8 (Google Chrome 61.0.3163.98)
3049 Points ∼17% -36%
Lenovo Tab 4 8 (Chrome 61)
2903 Points ∼16% -39%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 (Amazon Silk 58.2.3029.83.10)
2826 Points ∼16% -41%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active (Chrome 40)
1891 Points ∼10% -60%
WebXPRT 2015 - Overall Score
Apple iPad (2017)
205 Points ∼100% +206%
Lenovo Tab 4 8 (Chrome 61)
69 Points ∼34% +3%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8 (Google Chrome 61.0.3163.98)
69 Points ∼34% +3%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
67 Points ∼33%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 (Amazon Silk 58.2.3029.83.10)
57 Points ∼28% -15%
JetStream 1.1 - Total Score
Apple iPad (2017)
128.6 Points ∼100% +393%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
26.099 Points ∼20%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 (Amazon Silk 58.2.3029.83.10)
19.519 Points ∼15% -25%
Lenovo Tab 4 8 (Chrome 61)
18.36 Points ∼14% -30%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8 (Google Chrome 61.0.3163.98)
17.68 Points ∼14% -32%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active (Chrome 40)
17355.5 ms * ∼100% -156%
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8 (Google Chrome 61.0.3163.98)
12635 ms * ∼73% -86%
Lenovo Tab 4 8 (Chrome 61)
12033 ms * ∼69% -77%
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 (Amazon Silk 58.2.3029.83.10)
11817.6 ms * ∼68% -74%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
6785.6 ms * ∼39%
Apple iPad (2017)
1457.7 ms * ∼8% +79%

* ... smaller is better

Internal storage remained identical in size to its predecessor. And while strictly speaking 16 GB eMMC flash storage is acceptable and not uncommon in this price range we would have wished for more, especially considering the user accessible slice of just 9.5 GB out of the box. Read and write performance was mediocre at best, and storage can be expanded via a MicroSD card of up to 256 GB. The tablet supports offloading apps onto SD storage.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2Samsung Galaxy Tab ActiveLenovo Tab 4 8Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
AndroBench 3-5
-21%
16%
-21%
-22%
Sequential Write 256KB SDCard
64.3
61.1
-5%
14.6
-77%
34.15
-47%
Sequential Read 256KB SDCard
78.6
84.8
8%
87.7
12%
51.06
-35%
Random Write 4KB
10.98
9.76
-11%
7.1
-35%
7.64
-30%
11.51
5%
Random Read 4KB
25.96
20.24
-22%
44
69%
35
35%
21.55
-17%
Sequential Write 256KB
53.99
42.81
-21%
72.3
34%
38.01
-30%
47.23
-13%
Sequential Read 256KB
218.05
151.82
-30%
265.1
22%
135.09
-38%
159.08
-27%

Gaming

The Galaxy Tab Active 2’s ARM Mali T830 MP2 GPU should be fast enough to run most Android games smoothly on medium settings. We ran our tests accordingly and found no evidence to the contrary. Unfortunately, the display’s low resolution rears its ugly head through minor aliasing effects along the edges of objects.

Sensor controls were reliable and fast. The built-in motion sensor was very snappy and direct, and the touchscreen responded instantaneously to touch input even when things got hot and hectic.

Real Racing 3
Real Racing 3
Dead Trigger
Dead Trigger

Emissions

Temperature

The Galaxy Tab Active 2 kept cool at all times. Even under load we found no measuring points with a surface temperature of more than 35 °C. Most of the heat dissipation is focused on the upper part on both the front and back of the tablet.

Max. Load
 33.3 °C
92 F
29.5 °C
85 F
28.3 °C
83 F
 
 35.5 °C
96 F
30 °C
86 F
28.2 °C
83 F
 
 33.6 °C
92 F
29.5 °C
85 F
28.3 °C
83 F
 
Maximum: 35.5 °C = 96 F
Average: 30.7 °C = 87 F
28 °C
82 F
28.9 °C
84 F
31.9 °C
89 F
28.9 °C
84 F
30.1 °C
86 F
33.2 °C
92 F
28.2 °C
83 F
30.2 °C
86 F
34.4 °C
94 F
Maximum: 34.4 °C = 94 F
Average: 30.4 °C = 87 F
Power Supply (max.)  36.4 °C = 98 F | Room Temperature 21.9 °C = 71 F | Voltcraft IR-350
(+) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 30.7 °C / 87 F, compared to the average of 30.7 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Tablet.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 35.5 °C / 96 F, compared to the average of 34.8 °C / 95 F, ranging from 22.3 to 51.8 °C for the class Tablet.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 34.4 °C / 94 F, compared to the average of 34.3 °C / 94 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 29.9 °C / 86 F, compared to the device average of 30.7 °C / 87 F.

Speakers

Sound quality is only mediocre. The tablet’s maximum volume is too low for loud environments and to make matters worse it is also muffled by the protective cover. The resulting soundscape is so dull that one even fails to notice the complete lack of bass. The speakers are decent enough for phone calls and video chats provided that ambient noise is fairly low.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2027.428.327.42529.428.329.43129.931.129.94039.329.439.35027.427.227.4632625.7268026.724.726.710035.324.835.312544.828.544.816050.221.850.220053.22253.225052.222.452.231556.422.756.440060.323.360.350065.924.465.963066.219.666.280065.51865.5100065.617.665.6125066.118.466.1160071.216.771.2200075.716.375.7250077.915.677.9315076.615.876.6400076.515.376.5500074.315.374.3630075.815.375.8800071.515.171.51000069.915.269.9125007515.2751600077.715.177.7SPL86.129.886.1N62.31.362.3median 66.2median 17.6median 66.2Delta103.710hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseApple iPad (2017)
Apple iPad (2017) audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (86.1 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 17.5% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (10.8% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.8% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 8.5% higher than median
(+) | highs are linear (3.9% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (18.5% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 30% of all tested devices in this class were better, 7% similar, 63% worse
» The best had a delta of 7%, average was 22%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 33% of all tested devices were better, 6% similar, 61% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

 Frequency diagram (checkboxes selectable/deselectable!)

Energy Management

Power Consumption

All things considered, the Active 2 is a relatively power-efficient device. Only the Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 came even close. When both idle and under load, our review unit consumed less power than most of its competitors.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.16 / 0.22 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.89 / 3.13 / 3.36 Watt
Load midlight 3.93 / 5.45 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
4450 mAh
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
 mAh
Lenovo Tab 4 8
4850 mAh
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
4800 mAh
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
 mAh
Apple iPad (2017)
8.827 mAh
Power Consumption
23%
-19%
-141%
-0%
-131%
Idle Minimum *
0.89
0.6
33%
1.1
-24%
4.02
-352%
0.99
-11%
2.06
-131%
Idle Average *
3.13
2.2
30%
3.51
-12%
6
-92%
2.74
12%
7.42
-137%
Idle Maximum *
3.36
2.5
26%
4.14
-23%
6.64
-98%
2.83
16%
7.47
-122%
Load Average *
3.93
3.7
6%
4.86
-24%
7.34
-87%
4.51
-15%
9.45
-140%
Load Maximum *
5.45
4.3
21%
6.13
-12%
9.6
-76%
5.69
-4%
12.31
-126%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

Battery life, unfortunately, is below average. In our real-world Wi-Fi test it lasted significantly shorter than its competitors, which was not particularly surprising: The Active 2 consumes more power than its 2015 predecessor yet the battery capacity has remained unchanged. It should still last long enough for a full day of usage.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
22h 37min
WiFi Surfing
0h 00min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
14h 55min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
8h 13min
Load (maximum brightness)
6h 36min
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2
4450 mAh
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active
 mAh
Lenovo Tab 4 8
4850 mAh
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite 8
4800 mAh
Amazon Fire HD 8 2017
 mAh
Apple iPad (2017)
8.827 mAh
Battery Runtime
18%
-17%
7%
22%
6%
Reader / Idle
1357
1640
21%
1207
-11%
1382
2%
2032
50%
1496
10%
H.264
493
771
56%
603
22%
744
51%
845
71%
WiFi v1.3
895
452
-49%
877
-2%
770
-14%
764
-15%
Load
396
306
-23%
276
-30%
480
21%
393
-1%
225
-43%
WiFi
861

Pros

+ decent quality
+ rigid and tough case
+ user-replaceable battery
+ S pen included
+ support for MicroSD cards up to 256 GB
+ bright display
+ stays cool

Cons

- mediocre battery life
- low-resolution display
- slow storage memory

Verdict

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2. Review unit courtesy of Samsung Germany.
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2. Review unit courtesy of Samsung Germany.

No doubt: The Galaxy Tab Active 2 is a very tough all-rounder. The operating system is smooth and the device should be able to handle everyday tasks with ease. Internal storage is pretty limited, though, and while in theory the system does not require more storage space, an extra MicroSD card will become a necessity sooner rather than later. At least it supports MicroSD cards up to 256 GB in capacity.

Underneath its hardened and thick skin is a mid-range tablet. It is adequately equipped, and prospective customers will most likely end up purchasing it anyway due to the lack of rugged outdoor competition.

Whether or not the Galaxy Tab Active 2 will end up being useable in a workshop, garage, or a construction site remains to be seen. It is certainly tougher and more robust than most of its competitors, and it can become a very dependable companion on hikes and in the field. The display remains usable with gloves, and the included S pen allows for a very accurate and precise touch input.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2 - 12/22/2017 v6
Mike Wobker

Chassis
86%
Keyboard
72 / 80 → 90%
Pointing Device
87%
Connectivity
43 / 65 → 66%
Weight
83 / 40-88 → 89%
Battery
90%
Display
86%
Games Performance
16 / 68 → 23%
Application Performance
45 / 76 → 59%
Temperature
92%
Noise
100%
Audio
44 / 91 → 48%
Camera
71 / 85 → 83%
Average
70%
81%
Tablet - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2 Tablet Review
Mike Wobker, 2017-12-29 (Update: 2018-01- 3)